Former Head Writer of the Tonight Show Picks His Joke of the Week

Congrats to Nicholas Zike for winning this week’s joke pick!

Pro comedy writer Joe Toplyn, Former head-writer of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Late Show with David Letterman, picks his joke of the week:

Winner: Nicholas Zike, Follow him on Comedywire

Joe’s comments:

Setup: Trump Attacks Amazon, Saying It Does Not Pay Enough Taxes

Punch line: And if Donald Trump knows anything about anything, it’s about not paying enough taxes.

Nicholas might have used Punch Line Maker #1– Link two associations of the topic– to write this great joke.

One handle of the topic is “Trump.” Given all the speculation about his tax returns, one association of Trump that even his fans would probably accept is that he doesn’t pay enough taxes.

And the other handle of the topic happens to be “not pay enough taxes.” So Nicholas was able to link the association of one handle with the other handle itself to form the basis of his punch line.

To complete the joke, Nicholas needed an angle to logically connect the topic to the laugh trigger. The angle he wrote, “And if Donald Trump knows anything about anything,” flows particularly smoothly because it maintains the blustering, Trumpian attitude of the topic.

Nicholas also used Joke Maximizer #6 — Make the punch line parallel — when he worded his laugh trigger, “not paying enough taxes,” so that it closely resembled the phrase in the topic “not pay enough taxes.”

And he made sure to put the laugh trigger at the very end of the joke, which helps make a joke as funny as it can be.

Four-time Emmy winner Joe Toplyn is a former head writer for David Letterman and Jay Leno. He also wrote the book “Comedy Writing for Late-Night TV.”

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